Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Poem for Tuesday, Garden Origami, Mission Impossible: Fallout

Little God Origami
By Stefi Weisburd

The number of corners in the soul can't
compare with the universe's dimensions folded
neatly into swans. In the soul's
space, one word on a thousand pieces
of paper the size of cookie fortunes falls
from the heavens. At last, the oracular
answer, you cry, pawing at the scraps that twirl
like seed-pod helicopters. Alas, the window
to your soul needs a good scrubbing, so
the letters doodle into indecipherables just
like every answer that has rained
down through history, and you realize, in
your little smog of thought that death
will simply be the cessation of asking, a thousand
cranes unfolding themselves and returning to the trees.


Most of my Tuesday was uneventful, cleaning out Daniel's closet now that we have to worry about mold in there and trying to get estimates on drywall, attic, and roof repairs. I am way behind on things like uploading photos and filing posts, and I did not catch up on any of that because I was folding laundry and trying to stop cats from sitting on the clean clothes before I could get them put away. We went to the mall to Cava for dinner because we had evening tickets to see Mission: Impossible: Fallout courtesy my father's unused Groupon.

It's the first of the series I've seen in the theater, and I'm glad it was this one, because although the plot is more hyperbolic than the previous ones and the characterization is predictable (and, you know, Cruise is Cruise, though Cavill should play more might-be-villains), there's a lovely motorcycle chase through the streets of Paris and a lovely foot chase through the streets of London (geography a bit screwy but we get to see lots of landmarks so I didn't care). There are a bunch of interesting female characters and the non-CGI stunts are great.

We got home in time to watch Elementary, which is supposedly in its last season and I'm worried they're going to do something terrible to Marcus, if they aren't planning to give him a spin-off show as a Fed. Here are photos from Richmond's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which currently has a display of larger-than-life origami sculptures by Santa Fe artist Kevin Box, his wife Jennifer Box, and a group of collaborators (I put the acorn in with the squirrel though they're on opposite sides of a path):









Monday, July 30, 2018

Poem for Monday and Montgomery County Farm Tour

The Goat And I
By Robert William Service

Each sunny day upon my way
A goat I pass;
He has a beard of silver grey,
A bell of brass.
And all the while I am in sight
He seems to muse,
And stares at me with all his might
And chews and chews.

Upon the hill so thymy sweet
With joy of Spring,
He hails me with a tiny bleat
Of welcoming.
Though half the globe is drenched with blood
And cities flare,
Contentedly he chews the cud
And does not care.

Oh gentle friend, I know not what
Your age may be,
But of my years I'd give the lot
Yet left to me,
To chew a thistle and not choke,
But bright of eye
Gaze at the old world-weary bloke
Who hobbles by.

Alas! though bards make verse sublime,
And lines to quote,
It takes a fool like me to rhyme
About a goat.


We did boring stuff all morning and I am ready to burn the house down again because we discovered that during the torrential rains last week, water that has always managed to leak in around the chimney apparently overflowed from the attic into the closet in Daniel's bedroom, leaving mold on the ceiling and destroying stuffed animals stored on the top shelf there. Basically, every time we finish fixing and paying off one thing, something else blows up, and Paul does not share my urgent sense that some higher power is telling us repeatedly to get the hell out now before a tree falls on us.

Because I needed distraction and we needed food, we went to two farms on the Montgomery County Farm Tour taking place this weekend -- Star Gazing Farm, which rescues domesticated animals not being cared for elsewhere, and Homestead Farm, which raises goats and chickens though it's primarily a vegetable and fruit orchard. So I got to pet goats, donkeys, alpacas, sheep, and a pig, which makes it a good afternoon. We stopped at Giant on the way home. After dinner we watched Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation because we have free tickets to see Fallout and wanted to make sure we remembered where they left things.


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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Greetings from Richmond

We spent Saturday in Richmond, starting at the VMFA with Cheryl and Lin, where we had lunch in the cafe and visited the Confederate War Memorial Chapel on the grounds, which had not been open while we were there before (it's non-denominational, built in the late 1800s on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, not a very comfortable place for me as a Jew and as someone very ambivalent about places honoring Confederates). Our main reason for visiting the VMFA was to see their magnificent Napoleon: Power and Splendor exhibit (something else I'm ambivalent about!).

We went to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden to see the annual Butterflies Live flying around the conservatory and to visit the Origami in the Garden exhibit, consisting of 21 outdoor sculptures based on familiar shapes from the art of paper folding. We had dinner at the River City Diner and had originally planned to stay the night after seeing a production of As You Like It at Agecroft, but we have tons to do at home still, so we left Cheryl and Lin for the show and came back to do chores, plus we watched the quite good movie The Exception. Look for the image in the frame in the second pic!

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Saturday, July 28, 2018

Poem for Saturday, Gum Wall, I Capture the Castle

Be Angry At The Sun
By Robinson Jeffers

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante's feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.


I feel like on weekdays I should just post old photos unless something exciting actually happens, which is rare this summer when so much of my life is chores and cleaning and not even enough work to mention. Friday morning, at least, was fairly nice, and I walked in the park for a while before a Registeel raid and lunch. My afternoon was so unmemorable that I don't even remember what I did in what order.

We had dinner with my parents at CPK, then came home and watched some baseball before deciding to put on I Capture the Castle, which I had not seen and it's free now on Amazon Prime. It was a compelling story and extremely well acted, but somehow from the title I expected a happier or at least a more triumphant-feeling ending! This is Seattle's infamous Market Theater Gum Wall under Pike Place Market:

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Poem for Friday and MoPOP Sci-Fi

Because of the Wonderful Things She Does
By Evan J. Peterson

Oh, Dorothy.
You slap lions &
defeat witches,

you help grown men
become kings,

you help fake
wizards get clean,
you dry their tears

on your gingham
dress—big jobs

for an eight-
year-old. The Scarecrow

to strategize,
& the Tin Man always

loved, grieved
over crushing a bug.
& the Lion

ever had courage,
lacked only confidence

till Oz, the Great
And Terrible Fraud,
slipped him

a syrupy placebo.
But you, Dorothy?

You never
truly had the power
to take yourself

home. Sure, the shoes—
those silver, tap-dancing

but they’re not yours.
Home was always

beyond you, as you
took care of marvelous men.

Men who don’t
eat nor sleep but weep
into your skirts—

ain’t that just like a man?
(ain’t you too young to know?)

And of course
there’s your curious habit
of killing people

by accident. What Oz
himself couldn’t do,

nor the Good
Witch of the North.
Pig-tailed assassin,

you freed slaves,
Winkies & Munchkins,

a sort of reverse
John Wilkes Booth.
You kill with scrub water,

you kill with your house.
You kill

like a girl.
& that humbug, that huckster,
that flimflamming

grifter, that shuffler,
that hustler, that swindler

duped you. Oz,
that papier mâché
puppet head,

pressed you to kill.
Here’s rope, so hang:

no hot air
balloon ride on your
bucket list.

Just cute shoes
to walk you back

to bleak, flat
Kansas: happy

Dorothy, you Not-Queen
of Oz.


I organized and Freecycled a bunch of stuff in the morning, then at lunchtime I had an invitation to an EX raid at Starbucks, so I went and met friends there, caught Mewtwo, then went and got bagels and came home to do some more unexciting housework. It did not rain all afternoon and it was only in the mid-80s, so a nice day out by the standards of this July.

I am ashamed to admit that, after rewatching the middle of Burden of Truth since we missed half of it while on the phone last night -- I'm glad to see Kristin Kreuk in a non-genre show -- we watched Baywatch to the bitter end. I'm sure I've seen worse movies in the past five years but I can't think what. From the Museum of Popular Culture, some of the science fiction and fantasy costumes:

Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak. *snickers*

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Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!"

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One of Doctor Who's Daleks, toilet plunger and all.

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Greedo after Han shot first.

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The Terminator's leather jacket and various accessories.

Clothing belonging to Westley, Princess Buttercup, and Inigo Montoya.

Connor MacLeod a.k.a. The Highlander's furs and kilt.

Paul posing for the obligatory "Friend of Dorothy" shot.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Poem for Thursday and The Day the Earth Stood Still

Monsoon Poem
By Tishani Doshi

Because this is a monsoon poem
expect to find the words jasmine,
palmyra, Kuruntokai, red; mangoes
in reference to trees or breasts; paddy
fields, peacocks, Kurinji flowers,
flutes; lotus buds guarding love’s
furtive routes. Expect to hear a lot
about erotic consummation inferred
by laburnum gyrations and bamboo
syncopations. Listen to the racket
of wide-mouthed frogs and bent-
legged prawns going about their
business of mating while rain falls
and falls on tiled roofs and verandas,
courtyards, pagodas. Because such
a big part of you seeks to understand
this kind of rain — so unlike your cold
rain, austere rain, get-me-the-hell-
out-of-here rain. Rain that can’t fathom
how to liberate camphor from the vaults
of the earth. Let me tell you how little
is written of mud, how it sneaks up
like a sleek-gilled vandal to catch hold
of your ankles. Or about the restorative
properties of mosquito blood, dappled
and fried against the wires of a bug-zapping
paddle. So much of monsoon is to do
with being overcome — not from longing
as you might think, but from the sky’s
steady bludgeoning, until every leaf
on every unremembered tree gleams
in the abyss of postcoital bliss.
Come. Now sip on your masala tea,
put your lips to the sweet, spicy skin
of it. There’s more to see — notice
the dogs who’ve been fucking on the beach,
locked in embrace like an elongated Anubis,
the crabs scavenging the flesh of a dopey-
eyed ponyfish, the entire delirious coast
with its philtra of beach and saturnine
clouds arched backwards in disbelief.
And the mayflies who swarm in November
with all their ephemeral grandeur to die
in millions at the behest of light, the geckos
stationed on living room walls, cramming
fistfuls of wings in their maws. Notice
how hardly anyone mentions the word
death, even though the fridge leaks
and the sheets have been damp for weeks.
And in this helter-skelter multitude
of gray-greenness, notice how even the rain
begins to feel fatigued. The roads and sewers
have nowhere to go, and like old-fashioned pursuers
they wander and spill their babbling hearts
to electrical poles and creatures with ears.
And what happens later, you might ask,
after we’ve moved to a place of shelter,
when the cracks in the earth have reappeared?
We dream of wet, of course, of being submerged
in millet stalks, of webbed toes and stalled
clocks and eels in the mouth of a heron.
We forget how unforgivably those old poems
led us to believe that men were mountains,
that the beautiful could never remain
heartbroken, that when the rains arrive
we should be delighted to be taken
in drowning, in devotion.


Running late because I got to talk to both of my kids in Seattle this evening -- Adam to catch us up on his birthday weekend, at which he visited a lavender festival but accidentally shipped his lavender tea to us so I get to enjoy some of it, and Daniel because we haven't really talked to him since we were there and he's been juggling a bunch of projects. It was otherwise an uneventful Wednesday whose most notable activity was a failed trip to Home Depot, since apparently our house's outlet covers are so old that no one makes the right size any more.

We've had so much rain here that it feels like Seattle, though they get it in the winter and we've had a July with many, many flood warnings, including today. We half-watched the first episode of Burden of Truth, which was okay, and turned off Planet Earth when foxes were about to eat mountain goats. Speaking of Seattle, here are my kids at the Museum of Popular Culture -- formerly the EMP Museum, and before that, the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame -- with the robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still, in photos taken in 2005 and a couple of weeks ago:



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Poem for Wednesday and Bellevue Botanical Garden

The Sleep of Seeds
By Lucia Cherciu

It didn’t rain all summer.
Instead of water, my father used prayer
for his garden. Despite his friends’ laughter,
he planted spinach and lettuce,
countless rows of cucumbers
in beds lined up meticulously
ignoring old people’s warnings
about the drought.
Every afternoon, he pushed his hat back,
wiped off his sweat,
and looked up at the empty sky,
the sun scorching
the acacia trees shriveling in the heat.
In July, the ground looked like cement.
Like the ruins of a Roman thermal bath,
it kept the vestiges of a lost order,
traces of streams long gone.
He yelled at me to step back
from the impeccable architecture
of climbing green beans,
the trellis for tomatoes,
although there was nothing to be seen,
no seedlings, no tendrils,
not even weeds,
just parched, bare ground—
as if I were disturbing
the hidden sleep of seeds.


I had a bunch of shopping to do on Rockville Pike on Tuesday, which was fine because I really needed to get out of the house even though a lot of work there was not done. I got thrilling things like a step stool at the Container Store and a cat blanket at Tuesday Morning, but I also had lunch at Lebanese Taverna since I was there (and I may have stopped in the Hallmark store for this year's Snape/Harry holiday ornament, which of course I will not be using on a tree but just listening to Alan Rickman talk when I press the button). I stopped in Cabin John Park because there were three Registeel raids right next to each other, and I got all my t-shirts sorted and put away, so the bedroom is more or less reconstructed, with a number of deletions.

We watched this week's The 100 (and I'm actually surprised it took this long to get to cannibalism, but it was pretty badly written, like the only way they could come up with to redeem Octavia was this, so not impressive). Then we started watching Ekaterina, the Russian-made Catherine the Great miniseries, but it was heavy-handed and we didn't feel like dealing with subtitles. So because I was feeling mindless, we actually started watching the terrible recent Baywatch movie, then Paul's brother Jon called so we turned it off. Do The Rock and Zac Efron fall in love? Here are some photos from Bellevue's lovely botanical garden, which we visited while in Seattle last month, including the swinging bridge:



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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Poem for Tuesday and Neototems Children's Garden

The Pig
By Roald Dahl

In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn’t read,
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn’t puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found,
Till suddenly one wondrous night,
All in a flash, he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, “By gum, I’ve got the answer!”
“They want my bacon slice by slice
“To sell at a tremendous price!
“They want my tender juicy chops
“To put in all the butchers’ shops!
“They want my pork to make a roast
“And that’s the part’ll cost the most!
“They want my sausages in strings!
“They even want my chitterlings!
“The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!
“That is the reason for my life!”
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great peace of mind.
Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And Piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor . . .
Now comes the rather grizzly bit
So let’s not make too much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he’d finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile, he said,
“I had a fairly powerful hunch
“That he might have me for his lunch.
“And so, because I feared the worst,
“I thought I’d better eat him first.”


On Monday I was back to being boring -- I hung up hooks in my closet from which to hang my scarves, I folded a lot of shirts and sorted a bunch to give away, I paired up what seemed like six hundred socks and pondered how many socks one person really needs (because of course I need all eight Avengers pairs and the three DC pairs and six pairs with cats and enough Halloween socks for two weeks in October). I tried to get bagels but someone had bought all the pumpernickel and sesame before I got there and there was only one rye. At least Giant had spicy pepper cheese.

At least I now have an Alolan Marowak and a Registeel on both accounts. We spent the evening sorting stuff while watching Versailles, which is gloriously mindless escapism featuring the men with the best hair on television, and Elementary, which is less mindless and has less glorious hair but has Lucy Liu being brilliant and if they're doing this storyline with Marcus because they feel like killing him off rather than to give him his own story arc, I will be furious. From Seattle Center's Neototems Children's Garden, Gloria Bornstein's sea creatures and a flying pig:

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I was sure I took a picture of the octopus too, but I can't find it now.